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St. Louis Art Museum Projects Reduced Revenues Following Coronavirus Pandemic

A visitor takes a photo of "Double Exposure" by James Little at the St. Louis Art Museum.  Oct. 9, 2019
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
The St. Louis Art Museum has revised its 2020 projected budget because of revenue lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

The St. Louis Art Museum is cutting expenses after its projected revenue dropped by 11% during the coronavirus pandemic.

Museum officials say they will have to trim the $37 million operating budget by $4 million to make up for the projected loss. They told members of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District on Tuesday that the museum must adjust its spending because of a decrease in endowment support and admissions fees lost after officials shut down the region to keep the virus from spreading.

The art museum reopened its doors June 16. The three-month shutdown delayed exhibits and events and led officials to close the museum for three months, said Carolyn Schmidt, the museum’s deputy director and controller. 

“We assumed that the museum would be closed to the public through mid-June or early July, that we’d have reduced attendance due to government guidelines on capacity, social distancing and visitor concern about exposure to COVID-19,” Schmidt said.

Museum officials expect contributions and sponsorships to fall 65% to about $530,000 this year, and ticket revenues to fall to about $137,000, about half of what the museum projected. Money from museum membership is projected to stay at about $3 million.

Schmidt said the museum expects to weather the financial storm in part because of an increase in projected tax revenue that wasn’t figured into its initial 2020 budget. The museum’s taxpayer support is expected to increase slightly to about $23.5 million. It will also cut $2 million in expenses from travel, art shipping and exhibition preparation. 

Director Brent Benjamin said the museum has no plans to lay off or furlough any workers. 

But museum officials expect the pandemic to have an effect on exhibits for years. 

“The impact of COVID-19 has severely disrupted the museum’s expedition schedule this year and will continue to do so for the next few years due to quarantine requirements, disruptions and restrictions on air travel, shipping and freight,” Benjamin said.

He said the museum's fall exhibit will consist of objects in the museum’s collection in case there is a second wave of the coronavirus.

“Those that were strong when COVID hit and had been fully reserved, like the St. Louis Art Museum, find ourselves in very, very good shape to weather this,” Benjamin said.

Follow Chad on Twitter @iamcdavis

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